US Senator Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey, announced on Friday that he is running for president, joining an increasingly crowded pool of Democratic contenders seeking to overthrow President Donald Trump in 2020.
“The history of our nation is defined by collective action, by interwoven destinies of slaves and abolitionists, of those born here and those who chose America as home, of those who took up arms to defend our country, and those who linked arms to challenge and change it,” Booker said in a video released on Friday morning.
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“I’m Cory Booker and I’m running for president of the United States of America,” added Booker, who is a second-term African American senator and former mayor of Newark, New Jersey.
He announced his candidacy on Friday, the first day of Black History Month, mentioning the effect of racial discrimination on his family and saying he would focus on creating good jobs and reforming the criminal justice system.
Booker is one of at least four US senators vying for the right to challenge Trump, the likely Republican nominee, and one of nine Democrats, who have either launched campaigns or formed exploratory committees to begin raising money and hiring staff for a presidential run.
Since Trump came to office in January 2017, Democrats have tried to challenge him on his immigration agenda and demands for a wall on the US-Mexico border.
A record 35-day-long partial government shutdown ended last week without Trump gaining funding for the proposed border wall.
Booker will be up against fellow party leaders and members like Elizabeth Warren, the 69-year-old senator from Massachusetts.
A leader of the party’s liberals, Warren jumped into the race with a New Year’s Eve video release. On visits to states that hold early nominating contests such as Iowa and New Hampshire, she has focussed on her populist economic message, promising to fight what she calls a rigged economic system that favours the wealthy.
Kamala Harris, a 54-year-old junior senator from California, announced her candidacy on the holiday honouring civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
The daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, Harris has made a quick impact in a Democratic race that will be heavily influenced by women and minority voters. Harris reportedly raised $1.5m online in the first 24 hours of her campaign and drew record ratings on a CNN televised town hall.
Tulsi Gabbard, 37, the first Hindu to serve in the US House of Representatives, announced her candidature on January 11.
Her campaign has quickly been engulfed in controversy over her past anti-gay activism and statements, forcing the Hawaii congresswoman to apologise. “In my past, I said and believed things that were wrong,” she said.
Gabbard’s supporters say she is an opponent of US wars, while critics point out that she has ties to Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and India’s Narendra Modi, and supports the so-called war on “terror”.
US Senator from New York Kirsten Gillibrand, an outspoken leader in the #MeToo movement against sexual assault and harassment, announced her candidature on January 15 on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”.
Gillibrand, 52, touted her rural roots in upstate New York on a subsequent trip to Iowa and said she had proven her ability to win over more conservative rural voters.
Other contenders include former US representative John Delaney, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Julian Castro, who served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development under former President Barack Obama.